Standards Ensemble - Academia

Standards Ensemble - Academia

Advanced Technologies


Libraries, Archives, and


An Introduction

Daniel Pitti



Advanced Technology in the Humanities

University of Virginia



Library School

November 2007


• Traditional Media

• Cultural Heritage Professionals

• Computer and Network Technologies

• Database and Markup Technologies

• Conclusion: Opportunities and Challenges

Traditional Media

• Books, manuscripts (medieval and

modern), photographs, video and sound

recordings, maps, drawings, painting,

sculpture, architecture …

• The accumulated evidence of human

activity (both good and bad)

• A world of physical artifacts

• Participants: creators, curators, and users

Cultural Heritage Professionals

• Librarians, Archivists, Museum curators

• Cultural heritage professionals

• Fundamental responsibility:

– remember

– on behalf of everyone

– everywhere

• Collect, describe, preserve, make


• A profound responsibility

Traditional Tools

• Card and print catalogs; Printed finding

aids; Inventories and registers

• To organize, describe, manage, preserve

in order that the artifacts be found or

discovered, and used

• Computers and network technology

transform the tools

• Enhance and expand professional


Computer and Network


• Computers and digital media

– New types of cultural objects constantly emerging

(born digital)

– Re-represent traditional media in digital media (born

again digital)

– Change the tools used my cultural heritage

professionals for both new and old media

• Computers separate the medium of storage from

the medium of access and rendering

• Network technologies enable communicating

objects, anywhere, anytime

Database and Markup


• Character data (as opposed to picture, sound, 2-

D, and 3-D data)

• From 1s and 0s, to sequences of 1s and 0s, to

repertoire of characters: a,b,c, … A,B,C,…;

1,2,3, …

• Unicode: the entire repertoire of human

characters ()

• Two predominant technologies for representing

character data

– Database technologies

– Markup technologies

Database and Markup


• Both technologies standardized in late 1980s,

and revised in second generation in 1998

• SQL (Structure Query Language)

• XML (Extensible Markup Language)

• Complementary rather than competing

• Each optimized to perform certain task efficiently

and well

• Each has complementary strengths and


Databases and Data-centric

• Regular number of components (fields)

• Order not generally significant

• Each component restricted to data (in

internal delimiters)

• Regularized structure; little or no hierarchy

• Relations of fixed number of types

• Processing of data components

dependent on strict datatyping, formality,

accuracy, and consistency

Data-centric Examples

• Passport application

• Student records

• Bibliographic records

• Authority records (library)

• Census data

• And many, many more

Markup Technologies and

Document-centric Data

• Irregular number of components

• Serial order is significant

• Semi-regular structure

• Unbounded hierarchy

• Arbitrary mixing of data and markup

• Arbitrary number of interrelations within

and among documents

Document-centric Examples

• Books

• Journals and journal articles

• Poems

• Newspapers

• And many, many more

Technology and Reality

• Not all character-based documents

conform to one or the other models

• Archival finding aids, for example, have

components that map well to markup

model and still others to databases mode

• Which technology is best

• Decision to be made, based on priorities

and objectives

• Frequently a very difficult decision

Success of XML

• Markup technologies developed by the

document-centric community

• Alternative to word processing and text

processors: separating what the data is

from the render and other processes

applied to it

• SGML to XML in 1998

• Since 1998

Success of XML

• Use for document-centric as expected

• Unexpected:

– Data communication

– Computer to computer

– Computer to people

• Database technologies make extensive

use of markup technologies

• What is next

Integration of Markup and

Database Technologies

• Major database developers working on

next generation databases

– Integration

– Relational or object-relational architectures

– Native XML architectures

• XQuery with SQL extensions to integrate

the data

• Opportunity: the strengths of both

technologies in one architecture

Some Uses of XML

by Cultural Heritage Communities

• Metadata (or Control data)


Core, MIX, …

• Text representation and analysis

– TEI and others

– Mss transcribed and encoded

– Books and articles transcribed and encoded

Types of Metadata

• Descriptive data (cataloging)

• Administrative data

– Technical data

– Rights data

– Source description

• File or Address Data

• Structural Data

• Rendering (or behavior) Data


• Digital objects have become part of the

cultural heritage canon

• Computers and network technologies offer

cultural heritage professionals with

– New tools

– New opportunities to more effectively fulfill

professional objectives

– New opportunities to push the boundaries of

professional activity


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